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The Refugee Council of Australia condemns Aus government for its part in Taliban attacks

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The Refugee Council of Australia has strongly condemned the Australian government for escalating terrorist attacks on Hazaras in Afghanistan.

The Council has called for the international community and the Afghan government to act to prevent further violence, provide protection to those who have been displaced by Taliban attacks and immediately end the forced return of Hazara asylum seekers.

Refugee Council of Australia President, Phil Glendenning, said the tragedy has not received adequate attention from the media or from the international community.

“When Prime Minister [Scott] Morrison spoke at the Remembrance Day service in Canberra this week, he rightly lamented war as a ‘failure of our humanity’. In the case of Afghanistan – where Australian military personnel have been serving for longer than both World War I and II combined – what we are seeing is failure multiplied.”

At the end of October, Taliban forces completed coordinated attacks against Hazaras in the Khas Uruzgan, Malestan and Jaghori districts of Afghanistan, which killed and displaced thousands. The districts, which were previously a relatively peaceful area, are now effectively under Taliban control.

Most recently, Hazaras protestors gathered in Kabul to protest the relative inaction of the Afghanistan government in the face of these attacks. As they were protesting, a suicide bomber struck the group, killing at least six people.

The Council said that many people from the Hazara community in Australia originate from these districts and have been deeply affected by the attacks. Hazara-Australians have had family members killed or forced to flee their homes.

Founder and President of Hazara Women of Australia, Najeeba Wazefadost, said: “The Hazara community are mourning the death of loved ones in Afghanistan. The number of people in need of shelter, food and medicine has increased dramatically.

“We are doing our best in Australia to help where we can, but we are asking the Afghan government and international community to provide support with humanitarian needs.”

Glendenning called for the Australian government to join the international community in re-engaging the Afghan government to protect its citizens, as well as ending the forced returns of Hazara asylum seekers back to Afghanistan.

Professor of Diplomacy at the Australian National University (ANU) and Vice President of the Refugee Council of Australia, Professor William Maley, said the recent attacks on Hazara districts are “of no military significance” to the Taliban.

He said it “makes more sense as a symbolic strike designed to highlight the inability of the Afghan state effectively to protect members of a vulnerable ethnic and sectarian minority, and as punishment for the relatively tolerant lifestyle of these communities”.

“These attacks illustrate what has been clear for some time: that there are no ‘safe’ areas to which Hazaras can reasonably be expected to return,” Maley said.

The Refugee Council of Australia is writing to the Australian government to call for the immediate end of all returns of people back to danger in Afghanistan.

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